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Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2014 07:47:49 -0500
From: Bill Cox <>
Subject: Re: [PHC] Native server relief support for password hashing in browsers

On Sat, Jan 18, 2014 at 3:59 PM, Stephen Touset <> wrote:
> My original idea behind the blakerypt session key was to defeat cache
> analysis.
> However, the Catena guys seemingly have a much better approach than mine,
> which doesn't require the hash to be keyed, so I have effectively bowed out
> of the competition to make room for the professionals here who know what
> they are doing. :)

I would hate to see entries like Blakerypt bow out because of Catena.
If I drop out, it will be because of excellent real-world work like
escrypt. Catena has some excellent theoretical work, but until I see
an implementation that begins to approach the security of Scrypt, I
don't see it as a real contender.

Being new to password hashing, I'm not familiar with the techniques
commonly used.  Is your master key scheme which allows re-keying
without changing session passwords unique, or is that fairly standard?
 It certainly seems useful to me.  Catena focuses on an unrealistic
weak attack against Scrypt: aborting the second loop early using cache
timing.  However, an attacker still has to execute the full compute
intensive first loop, so we're not talking about speeding anything up,
just saving memory.  All the entries I've read other than Blakerypt
are susceptible to leaking early hashing memory, and an attacker can
use that to avoid both the compute time and memory.  It's a far more
realistic and strong attack, and while I don't like the thought that a
session key is *required*, Blakerypt has the best defence I've read so

The Catena paper blew me away and I stole some of their ideas
wholesale.  However, it seems like an academic solution at this stage.
 It has nothing to support modern memory architectures, no useful
parallelism, and no high performance hashing.  Of course, all of that
can be added, but until I see a real-world solution, it remains
theoretical work in my mind.  In comparison, you've addressed the
worst of the realistic attacks while offering a fast hashing scheme.
I think it's lame to fill memory with cryptographically random data,
but I seem to be in a minority.  If real cryptographically strong
pseudo-random numbers are wanted, Blake2 seems like a very strong

Instead of cryptographically random data, I think we would be better
off filling memory with "ducks cows pigs" and "clowns birds pies"
randomly, so long as we can force an attacker to do the same.


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